At left: the United States’ origins began with the indigenous tribes of Native American people. Center: Statue of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. who led the Civil Rights Movement for equal rights for African Americans. At right: Mount Rushmore that features US Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. All four represent important times in American history.
Indigenous tribes of North America lived on, farmed and cultivated the land now known as the United States. Presently, the country is culturally diverse, in which different cultures from around the world have had an impact on American culture, which is rooted in many traditions.
Following many wars and conflicts with the Native American people, America was colonized by Europeans beginning in the 1500s. Europeans migrated to the United States to start new lives as farming settlers. Along with colonization came slavery and according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, between 1525 and 1866, 12.5 million Africans were trafficked to European colonies. Following many anti-slavery movements in the U.S. led by prominent African American Activists such as Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and culminating in the Civil War, African slaves were freed in 1863. About 100 years later, African Americans were given civil rights under the leadership of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Due to the impacts of Native American, African, and European cultures in the country’s infancy, the United States is multicultural. It is the third-largest country in the world with a population of more than 325 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Since its founding in 1776, U.S. culture continues to be impacted by its many migrant people that come to the country from Africa, Asia, Europe, Central and South America, Canada, Mexico, and Island nations. Migrant people seeking religious, economic and social freedoms all share their cultures including their music, food and family traditions. Africans shaped America’s music most heavily through their gospel and religious spirituals that formed jazz, blues, pop, rock and roll, hip-hop and, rhythm and-blues music. Country and folk music developed from Europeans who mainly lived in the South in farming and mining communities.
The United States has no official language, although English is the national language. There are diverse religious practices in the United States, and about 71 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians. The Catholic and Protestant churches both have a large presence. As a result of the Catholic presence, Nuns and Priests in the U.S. play a major role in ministering within the areas of education, healthcare, spiritual development, social justice, and vocation work. Since the early 18th century, Nuns have established schools, hospitals, orphanages and more to help the poor in the country. In 1727, twelve French Ursuline Nuns established Ursuline Academy in New Orleans, the country’s oldest Catholic school for girls, beginning a long tradition of ministry to the poor.
American cuisine is influenced by Native Americans, Africans, Asians, and Europeans. Popular unique dishes such as southern grits, gumbo, macaroni and cheese, and others are unique to the country. The many cities and regions within the U.S. are also famous for specific cuisines such as Texas’ Mexican-influenced Tex-Mex, Philadelphia Cheese Steak sandwiches, Chicago Pizza, New York Cheesecake, Coney Island Hot Dogs, Southern Fried Chicken, New Orleans Creole Cuisine, China Town’s Fortune Cookies and food, and many others. Football, baseball, basketball, and hockey are native sports of American culture and many holidays are celebrated in the United States, which include Native American Day, Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday and more. The United States’ culture is a result of the Native Americans whose home it is, African slaves who won their freedom from slavery within it, and Europeans and Asians who migrated to the country.
Shearer, Benjamin F. Culture and Customs of the United States. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2008. EBook.